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.17 HMR [Guide]: Best Ammo & Guns

.22 LR, 9mm, .45 ACP, 5.56 NATO, and .308 Win seem to get all of the glory.

But there are dozens of other cartridges that are worthy of our attention. .17 HMR is just one of them!

.17 HMR Round
.17 HMR Round

.17 Hornady Magnum Rimfire, or .17 HMR, is a comparatively young cartridge that made a huge splash when it first came on the market over a decade and a half ago.

The round’s popularity isn’t surprising. It’s one of the fastest and most accurate rimfire cartridges currently on the market.

Garrow Arms 17 HMR Magazines
Garrow Arms .17 HMR Magazines

Yet a lot of people still aren’t very familiar with the .17 HMR or what it can do.

So what do you need to know about this relative newcomer?

I’ve put together this guide to tell you!  Now let’s get started.

Table of Contents

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What Is .17 HMR?

.17 HMR is, as the name would suggest, a rimfire cartridge that first hit the market in 2002 and is used primarily in rifles, but also in some revolvers.

Also as the name would suggest, .17 HMR was developed by Hornady with assistance from Marlin and Ruger.

.22LR vs .17 HMR
.22LR vs .17 HMR

The design was inspired by rounds created by hobby rimfire cartridge makers, or wildcatters, who were attempting to develop a round with similar ballistics to the  Remington Magnum Rimfire, or 5mm RMR, because of its speed and flat trajectory.

The developers designed .17 HMR to be a high-velocity cartridge that was also accurate and dependable.

The .17 HMR is a necked-down version of the .22 Magnum and generally uses a 17-grain bullet, though you can also find rounds with 20 grain and 15.5-grain bullets.

Popular Rifle Calibers, Part I
Popular Rifle Calibers, Part I

Though .17 HMR was designed to replicate the ballistics of the 5mm RMR.

But the .22 Magnum cartridge was instead used as the parent case because it was more widely available, was stronger than other .22 cases, and wouldn’t require significant changes to existing rifle and magazine designs like the 5mm RMR would thanks to its unusual head.

.17 HMR is available in hollow point, soft tip, and full metal jacket (FMJ).

.17 HMR Ballistics

It’s here that we begin to see why so many people enjoy using this particular cartridge. For starters, the range is one of the best you can get for a rimfire.

Typically, 250-yards is considered the effective range of a .17 HMR bullet out of a rifle, and the first 100-yards of this distance is going to have a completely flat trajectory.

This means for the majority of what you aim at with this caliber (with my assuming most of your critters are going to be relatively close), you’ll have no problem taking them out.

Provided you can put the reticle on target, you should be golden.

Even wind doesn’t seem to pose as much of a problem to the .17 HMR as when compared with other rimfires.

Whereas other rimfire calibers can really get tossed off-target by steady gusts, the .17 HMR can still ring relatively true without as much drift.

Out to 100-yards, you’re typically looking at these bullets hitting with 136 foot-pounds of force as well.

That means it’s plenty strong enough to take out that rogue skunk who keeps spraying your dog without your ever having to worry about being inside the immediate stink zone.

Uses of .17 HMR

.17 HMR is primarily used for mid-range small game and varmint hunting. The bullet’s velocity and accuracy make it ideal for hunting rabbit, possum, and raccoons from up to 200-yards.  

You can hit this guy with no problem from 200 yards
You can hit this guy with no problem from 200 yards

The round’s high energy can make it a bit too destructive for hunting varmints like squirrels and chipmunks, but if you’re not particularly concerned with preserving the body, then .17 HMR can be a great choice.

Skilled marksmen have used .17 HMR for larger game like hogs and coyotes, but it takes a hell of a shot and a range within about 50 yards to pull it off.

The other major use for .17 HMR is for plinking.  

.17 HMR is a great option for a day at the range.
.17 HMR is a great option for a day at the range.

It balances affordability with speed and accuracy. It’s also relatively quiet compared to larger ammunition, though it is louder than its main competitor, .22 WMR.

Best .17 HMR Ammo

A .17 HMR Round
A .17 HMR Round

Now that you know a bit about .17 HMR and what it’s useful for, let’s talk about some of my favorite HMR rounds for plinking and hunting.

.17 HMR Plinking Ammo

When it comes to plinking ammo, my favorite .17 HMR rounds are Federal Premium V-Max Polymer Tip and Winchester Varmint.

Best Plinking/Training .17 HMR
12
at Lucky Gunner

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

I don’t want to spend much on plinking ammo, so I like that these rounds are super affordable but also have respectable accuracy, velocity, and energy.

Both of these are great ammo picks, normally I just grab the cheaper option since I love both equally.

.17 HMR Hunting Ammo

For hunting, either Hornady Varmint Express or CCI Gamepoint is the way to go.

Best Hunting .17 HMR
19
at Palmetto State Armory

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Hornady Varmint Express is the OG of .17 HMR, and it shows offering excellent quality at an affordable price.  

Whether you go with 15.5-, 17-, or 20-grain, the soft tip offers superior accuracy alongside impressive expansion. Of course, that expansion means this ammo is best used for pest control.

CCI Gamepoint is better if you want to preserve your game.  It’s a full metal jacket round that expands minimally to protect your meat.  

12
at Lucky Gunner

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

It’s also incredibly accurate, with a max rise of only 0.6-inches when sighted for 100-yards.

The Current World of .17 HMR Ammunition

While these are some of the better .17 HMR cartridge options, the fact of the matter is that right now you have to get what you can get.

Multiple online retailers have been out of stock of .17 HMR now for months, and in many cases, there’s no telling when warehouse supplies will be restocked.

So quite honestly, if you see it, get it.

.17 HMR Rifles

Of course, even the best ammo is useless without something to shoot it out of.  

Fortunately, I’ve also assembled some recommendations for something to make that ammo go boom.

Handgun choices for .17 HMR are a bit limited, but there’s no shortage of rifle choices, so let’s start there.

I’d be more selective of which .17 HMR rifle I chose compared to my willingness to snatch up just about any ammunition out there. However, there’s a severe shortage of these on the market right now as well.

If you can find a rifle chambered in such though, my recommendations are two-fold: stick with something affordable and find something that you like.

Real ornate, right?

Budget-Friendly .17 HMR Rifles

For starters, spending anything over $400 on a rimfire rifle to me just doesn’t feel right.

Throwing big money around is for night vision, AK-47s, and bolt-action 6.5mm Grendel pieces. I don’t want to drop major dollars on something that I’m going to be “plinking” with.

Daniel Defense DDM4ISR Shoot House Night Vision
We prefer to spend our money…elsewhere.

Or shooting possums with, for that matter.

If you’re like me in that thought process, I recommend checking out what Savage has to offer, particularly, the Savage 93 FSS.

329
at Guns.com

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Chiappa makes an interesting little break-action .17 HMR called the Little Badger as well that may be more in the price range you’d be willing to spend.

“It’s Just Money” .17 HMR Rifles

If you are willing to spend big money, two of the most widely recommended are the Ruger 77/17 and the CZ 455 American.

The Ruger 77/17 was designed by Ruger specifically for .17 caliber ammo and is available in .17 HMR, .17 WSM, and .17 Hornet.

Best .17 Caliber Rifle
979
at Sportsman's Warehouse

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

The Ruger 77/17 is a classically styled bolt action rifle with plenty of modern touches.  It has a stainless steel action, cold hammer-forged barrel, and a detachable rotary magazine.

It also has built-in sling swivel mounts to make this rifle easier to carry, even when trekking through the underbrush, as well as integrated scope mounts on the steel receiver and included scope rings.

What’s your take on the Ruger? Give it a rating!

Readers' Ratings

4.99/5 (621)

Your Rating?

I’ve talked about the CZ 455 American before in my list of .22 LR rifle recommendations and I’m listing it here for the same reason.

570
at Brownells

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

The 455 American has an interchangeable barrel system that allows you to shoot .17 HMR, .22 LR, and .22 WMR using the same receiver.  

You can start with just the receiver and a pre-attached .17 HMR barrel or a combo that contains the receiver, the .22 LR barrel, and the .17 HMR barrel.  

You can then buy whatever additional barrels you want separately.  

For more info on the CZ 455 American and to hear a Canadian repeatedly pronounce the letter Z, check out the video below.

.17 HMR Handguns

Handgun choices in .17 HMR are fewer and almost exclusively revolvers.

The Taurus Tracker is one such revolver.

This is a durable revolver great for hunting small game!  

It has a textured rubber grip to help you keep maximum control over the weapon in all kinds of conditions and has a seven-shot capacity, giving you an extra shot before you need to reload when compared to most revolvers.

The Tracker also has an excellent safety mechanism. The gun can be locked with a key at which point the revolver can’t be cocked or fired and the manual safety can’t be disengaged.

When you’re ready to use it again, you can unlock it and get going. The same key can be used for any Taurus revolver or pistol.

If you don’t like the Taurus, check out Smith & Wesson’s Model 647.

SW Model 647
Smith & Wesson Model 647

It’s a beautiful revolver that, unfortunately, also has a ridiculous cylinder lock. It’s a hard gun to find, but it’ll get you into the world of .17 HMR revolvers.

If you’re looking for something a little more cowboy and a little less film noir, check out the Ruger Single-Six or the Chiappa 1873 SSA 17.

530
at Brownells

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Both of them are single-action, unfortunately, but they’re the cheapest way to get a .17 HMR handgun that I know of.

159
at Sportsman's Warehouse

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Conclusion

Whether you want a fun plinker or a varmint hunter, the .17 HMR can get the job done.

Garrow Arms 17 HMR Forend
Garrow Arms 17 HMR Forend

Though ammo can be tough to find, when you do find it, it’s worth it to play with this fun round.

Have you done much shooting with .17 HMR? Let us know in the comments below. If you’re interested in other obscure or mainstream calibers then you’ll want to check out our Ammo & Reloading Guide!

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26 Leave a Reply

  • Commenter Avatar
    Thomas Mitchell

    Love my Savage B17 FV. It's a tack driver. AccuTrigger is light & crisp, and the rotary magazine is slick and low-profile.

    November 28, 2021 6:33 am
  • Commenter Avatar
    Dave Jones

    What’s so funny aboot saying zed eh? That’s the way it’s pronounced!

    June 26, 2021 10:43 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Wayne

    No mention of the Savage A-17? jeez, I thought you were going to do a inclusive review. Between the tack driving accuracy (especially the 22") and the fact you don't need to grab a handle and pull it back to fire another round, it has been the nicest varmint destroyer I have.

    March 16, 2021 5:54 am
  • Commenter Avatar
    Chris Harrelson

    That Savage 93R is the most accurate rim fire rifle I have ever had the pleasure of owning. And mine was consistently accurate with several different brands of .17HMR. Squirrel head shots all morning at 100yrds give and take 25yds. Amazing rifles.

    October 18, 2020 7:33 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      Rob

      A MEN ! I'VE OWNED MY SHARE OF GUNS. A LOT OF REALLY ACCURATE SHOOTERS. I HAVE TO SAY ABSOLUTELY THE SAVAGE 93R17 I OWN IS A ABSOLUTE TACK DRIVING MACHINE. NOTHING TO HOLD DEAD ON AT 80 TO 100 YARDS AND TAKE THEM THEIR NUT THIEFS. LOL

      February 13, 2021 9:15 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Wayne garfield

    Any rifle with less than 1 MOA at over 100 yards is a superb rifle. My $300 Savage 93R with a good used Centerpoint scope that cost $75 is one of my favorite and consistent, super accurate platforms I have. Less than 1 MOA at 125 yards with cheap ammo.

    June 13, 2020 7:42 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      Chris Harrelson

      That Savage 93R is the most accurate rim fire rifle I have ever had the pleasure of owning. And mine was consistently accurate with several different brands of .17HMR. Squirrel head shots all morning at 100yrds give and take 25yds. Amazing rifles.

      October 18, 2020 7:29 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    NDAna

    Don't kill possums! No rabies and they eat thousands of ticks.

    February 27, 2020 5:45 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      Jeff

      You are correct! Possums are good for our environment!! Do Not Shoot Them!!

      November 21, 2020 1:34 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    William King

    Didn't see that that was mentioned.

    August 28, 2019 11:31 am
  • Commenter Avatar
    William King

    HMR could also stand for Hornady, Marlin, Ruger. Just a thought.

    August 28, 2019 11:29 am
  • Commenter Avatar
    RGC

    Browing T-Bolt is an excellent 17 HMR rifle.

    August 19, 2019 9:29 am
  • Commenter Avatar
    Farmer

    Great woodchuck round. I have a marlin 917 with the heavy barrel. Lightened up the trigger spring. Nice inexpensive good shooting gun.

    June 16, 2019 6:32 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    robert lynch

    This round is extremely great round I use it for hogs and one shot to the neck with cci game rounds will drop the hog in it's tracks at 75 yards dead. When u said you have to be with in 50 yards for an accurate kill shot on a large varmint was wrong.

    October 31, 2018 6:10 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Dan Boyd

    I’ve been using my Savage 93r to rid the planet of possums and raccoons for the past year. Drops them like rocks! Really want the .17 Alex arms upper.

    August 26, 2018 7:58 am
  • Commenter Avatar
    Heckel

    Almost all major gun companies make revolvers chambered in 17hmr. Ruger, Taurus, S&W, Chiappa......etc
    There are even AR-15'S chambered in 17HMR.

    August 19, 2018 3:38 am
  • Commenter Avatar
    Larry Sanderson

    I first bought a straight pull action from ati, had a real problem extracing the spent rounds. The back of the case was bulged which in turn deformed the rim, after sending the rifle back twice, I fell out of love with the rifle but not the round. Recently i acquired a Rossi magazine fed bolt action for $137 plus shupping and xfer fee and I'm back in love. An acquaintance has a heavy bbl Savage bolt gun too.
    I'm able to buy ammo for around $8.00 plus shipping which adds another dollar or so if you get a quantity. The name of the place is SG Ammo out of Oklahom
    My fave type of shooting is a game I call "FORE!" It involves a golf ball or empty 12ga cases. The leader points out a target then shoots at it. If the tatget moves, it's considered a hit. The shooter keeps shooting until the Shell is out of sight. Its one heck of a thrill to hit a golfball and watch it soar then you get to call out the name of the game.

    August 15, 2018 8:32 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      David

      Rossi bolt and semi-auto small caliber rifles are nice for the price, I have their semi-auto .22 LR RS22 that I paid $102 shipped and love it!

      August 16, 2018 10:42 am
  • Commenter Avatar
    Sam

    Perhaps a future review of the Alexander Arms .17 HMR in the AR platform? :-)

    August 14, 2018 6:56 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      Eric Hung

      Maybe, Sam!

      August 15, 2018 12:07 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      David

      First time I've heard of someone doing .17 HMR on the AR platform. It would be interested to try out!

      August 16, 2018 11:30 am
  • Commenter Avatar
    Bill Green

    Love my Marlin 917VS in .17HMR. I have only ever shot it in 17 gr and I'm totally satisfied with Hornady's V-Max. From a bench rest I can repeatably place 3 rounds at a 100 yds that can be covered with a dime. My son dropped a coyote at under a 100 yds and he dropped right now. I put a BSA Sweet 17 scope on it and I've been really happy with the total package. The only criticism I have of the Marlin are the magazines that come with it. They seem sloppy and cheap although to date I have not had them fail to feed properly.

    August 14, 2018 6:30 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      Robert

      I dropped a hog a 75 yards with mine and after that fell in love with the gun it is my go to hog and scouting rifle when deer season is not in.

      October 31, 2018 6:26 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Rene Hernandez

    Thanks for such a great piece on my favorite round! I bought my Savage B17 about a year ago for less than $400 and have loved it ever since.

    August 14, 2018 4:57 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      Mark

      Love my Savage also

      August 20, 2018 12:01 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Monte Walsh

    Good round, used it for years now. Doesn’t require special talent for coyote use.

    August 14, 2018 4:25 pm
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